Friday, September 6, 2013


The word "Reboot" has become the rally cry of many a Hollywood and Television executive, and I think I understand why, and it's not just that they've run out of ideas.

Two things play into it.  The first is the need to extend a franchise, but the original cast and writers are getting older and older, to the point that they simply can't act any more, or are dead.  Have you seen Leonard Nimoy recently?  Long running franchises like Star Trek can't rely on their original casts any more, so there are two ways to go:  The Next Generation angle (new ship, new crew, new adventures) or just start from scratch and build a new group of actors to take on iconic roles.

The other reason is, well, people don't really WANT new things.  Claiming they have no ideas isn't the issue, the issue is that WE don't really want something new.  Would you spend money to see the next Star Wars movie, or some other sci-fi film you know nothing about?  They have the numbers, and the numbers say the Star Wars movie would win.  Statistics is an awful thing sometimes.

Okay, so that's why Hollywood, television and gaming companies do reboots.  Why do comic artists do reboots?  And I won't talk about DC and it's issues here, because I don't read comic books.  After all, comic characters don't age, so that's not a reason.  And most comics don't have big enough audiences, or the resources to track stats like big studios do.

For Commander Kitty, it was more necessity than anything else.  The previous version of the comic had been more or less lost due to host failures, and so much time had passed that it was easier to start over again.  The artist even considers the original comic to be more of a "rough draft" and I can see where he's coming from there.  Not much was really lost in the reboot, of course, the characters stayed more or less the same, their relationships reset, but that was likely for the best, and the story was begun anew, and it ended up being much better for it.

There really aren't a lot of comics that do a full on reboot that I've read, but one is, technically, a kind of reboot:  Dumbing of Age.  The whole time I was reading it, I kept feeling like I had seen the art before, and I had, in ads for Shortpacked!, among other comics.  Which I didn't realize until a couple months after I started reading the comic.  The point of Dumbing of Age was to bring together his many characters (there are at least 4 comics this has roots in) and put them "in college, minus fifteen years of baggage."  Again, the rebooting here was less about the quality of the work, and more wanting to tell a different story but with similar characters.  In a way, it actually does fulfill the desire for people to have the same old thing, but in a new, and actually interesting way.  The fact that I didn't feel like I had missed anything is a testament to the writing allowing for the clueless, like me, to get into the comic without even knowing there were other comics.

I rarely see comics do any kind of reboot, they either keep going with what they have, or maybe go back and redo the art (that's very common).  But the stories, characters and whatnot remain the same.  I suspect the reason is more pride than anything else.  This was something they worked hard on, and they don't want to throw it all out and start again, even if it could be justified.  Sometimes, though, the result is much better than the original.  I have not read Shortpacked!, but I have a funny feeling that it probably won't be nearly as strong as Dumbing of Age when I do, despite having several years on it's younger sibling.  And my memory of the original Commander Kitty is dim, but I'm pretty sure the current version is much, much better.  Both should be considered successful reboots, at the very least.

Next week, it's anniversary time.  Until then kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment